Men's Tennis Begins New Era with Kei Nishikori - Marin Cilic Final at 2014 US Open - UBITENNIS
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Men's Tennis Begins New Era with Kei Nishikori – Marin Cilic Final at 2014 US Open

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TENNIS US OPEN – Up at the Stadium, they said farewell to Derek Jeter on Sunday, gave the Yankee shortstop of 20 years his special day. 24 hours earlier and a few miles away, we said goodbye to an era in tennis. So long to a Grand Slam men’s final which had Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. So long to what we knew. So long to what we expected. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

Up at the Stadium, they said farewell to Derek Jeter on Sunday, gave the Yankee shortstop of 20 years his special day, a couple of weeks before retirement. Twenty-four hours earlier and a few miles away, across the East River, we said goodbye to an era in tennis.

So long to a Grand Slam men’s final which had Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray. So long to what we knew. So long to what we expected.

On Monday, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic meet for the U.S. Open Men’s Singles Championship. It’s the first time in 38 majors without one of the Big Four. It will not be the last time.

A new shortstop for the Yankees. New stars in tennis. And golf. The Tiger Woods era is done, so they say. The Rory McIlroy era has begun.

Nothing is forever. No one is forever. Especially in sports where age and injury alter the landscape all too quickly. Change, always change.

Djokovic isn’t going away, for certain. But the mystique of his superiority has taken a jolt. The hard courts of Billie Jean King Center, as well of those at the Australian Open, are his best surface. Yet he was overwhelmed by the 24-year-old Nishikori.

The way Nadal was beaten in the fourth round at Wimbledon in July by 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios. That just before 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov whipped defending champ Andy Murray.

We sensed then a shift was coming in the men’s game. Maybe not immediately, but it was there on the horizon.

Nadal, while only 28, has bad knees and a sore wrist. How long can he last? Federer, 33, won’t reach another Slam final. Murray is the same age as the 27-year-old Djokovic, but for him, each match seems a climb up a mountain.

Already this year there was a breakthrough when Stan Wawrinka won the Australian, defeating Nadal in the final. Rafa supposedly had back troubles, but that’s part of the issue isn’t it? The older you get the more ailments you incur.

With the classic exception of Federer, who throughout a history in which he’s won a record 17 Slams has never been injured, other than suffering some back pain.

So Wawrinka won in Australia and either Nishikori or the 25-year-old Cilic will take the Open. And it’s either the best thing that can happen to the sport or if you’re doing the telecasting, the worst.

A Yankee fan stays a Yankee fan, no matter who’s at shortstop. Or in right field. But, ah, tennis is, as is golf, a sport without team loyalty, a sport requiring familiarity.

Everyone knows Nadal and Federer. And Djokovic. But who will watch Nishikori against Cilic? The transition will be difficult. It also may be exciting.

Maybe there’s an American about to work his way toward the top.

Or maybe Nishikori, a man of two cultures, from Japan but trained and living in the United States, captures a few titles and the attention of the public and becomes the Ichiro Suzuki of tennis.

“He’s been around for the last couple of years,” a magnanimous Djokovic said of Nishikori. “He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for a title is definitely something different.”

And something different is about to take over tennis, something new. Wham, wham, wham. Three aces by Cilic to begin the final set against Federer. Wham, wham, wham, the explosion throughout the sport.

“You saw everything,” affirmed Cilic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, a former Wimbledon champion. “When you give lessons of tennis to Roger Federer, it means you’re amazing. That’s too good.”

The Federer fans think that’s too bad. Their man is nearer to the end of his wonderful career than the beginning. It was 2001 when a little known Federer surprised six-time champion Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. Pete’s time was about to become Roger’s time.

Now Roger’s time is ebbing away. Who steps up? Who grabs the brass ring? Who gets his own logo, as Federer, the interlocking “RF,” on his hats? Nishikori? Cilic? Kyrgios? Dimitrov? Milos Raonic, the young Canadian. Or none of the above?

Federer in effect sneered at the thought, raised by a journalist, that the times are a changing.

“You create your stories,” was Federer’s response. “You said the same in Australia. Then we know what happened at the French Open final, Wimbledon final. But this is another chance for you guys (in the press). So you should write what you want.”

What we wrote is that the men’s game, to use a tennis term, is in a changeover. And Federer to his credit saw the benefit, even if it’s not to his advantage.

“It’s exciting for the game to have different faces from time to time,” Federer said. “It’s definitely refreshing to some extent.”

Unless you are one of the Big Four.

Article for bleacherreport.com

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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